Do you feel as if some extra pounds have crept up on you?
And are you struggling to get rid of them?
Perhaps you have tried every diet going and still those stubborn pounds don’t shift?
As you grow older, you may feel that it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
And this is because at this time in your life, your body starts to go through some of its biggest hormonal changes. It is these changes which have a massive influence on the way you look and feel.
But rest assured, there is lots which you can do to get back to looking and feeling fabulous.
Let me explain why you are finding it difficult to shift those extra pounds.
Your hormones are starting to fluctuate.
Hormones are chemical messengers which pretty much control every function in your body. They control your metabolism, when you feel hungry and indeed full as well as your stress levels, mood, bone density and muscle strength. And so, when these hormones are all over the place, it is natural that it will have an impact on changes in your body
Your metabolism starts to slow down.
Do you remember the years when you could just eat anything you wanted? And now just looking at a cake seems to add a layer of fat around your middle? One of the reasons for this is that your natural resting metabolic rate will slow down as you age. And in addition, lower oestrogen levels associated with your peri and menopause years can slow down your metabolism. This is why you can start to feel sluggish and tired as well as start to build up a little more fat.
You start to lose lean muscle.
Lower levels of oestrogen and testosterone are also linked to a decrease in muscle mass. And when you lose muscle mass, it slows the rate at which your body uses calories (metabolism). And a sluggish metabolism can lead to weight gain.
You can start to become insulin resistant.
As you grow older and gain weight, your body can find it more difficult to respond to insulin. Insulin is the hormone which regulates your blood sugar levels. And when it’s not doing its job you can start to pile on the pounds and end up on a blood sugar roller coaster. And it is these blood sugar highs and lows which lead to cravings for sweet foods and more weight gain.
Your hunger hormones start to play up.
Your appetite is controlled by two hormones, ghrelin (hunger) and leptin (satiety). And these two hormones can become less effective at doing their job as you grow older. And when you become resistant to them, feeling hungry is very real. It is not just something in your head.
Your exercise routine may have slipped away.
Pressures of modern life may mean that you are not exercising as much as you used to. And of course, if you are moving less, then you will be burning up less energy
Stress may be dominating your life.
Your stress hormone cortisol releases fuel in the form of sugar to keep you safe from danger. This is great if the stress you are facing is a physical one and you burn through the fuel to deal with it. However, if your stresses are emotional and constant, all the extra sugar you pump out will go straight to your fat cells to be stored. And this will pile on the pounds particularly around the belly and get you reaching for more cakes and biscuits when your blood sugar comes crashing down.
You may be exposed to too many toxins in your life.
Chemicals found in our environment, such as household cleaning products and cosmetics as well as pesticides found on our foods can build up in our bodies. They get stored in our fat cells. And our bodies will hold onto these fat cells in order to protect us.
So, what is the best way to shift those extra pounds when you are over 40?
The good news is that with some easy changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can lose those excess pounds and get back to a healthy weight.
- Change the way you eat and make sure that you include lean protein (oily fish, fish and chicken) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados) in every meal along with a big pile of vegetables. This combination is very filling and gives you all the essential nutrients to feel on top form. It will also keep you off the blood sugar roller coaster and stop those cravings which lead to weight gain.
- When you do eat carbohydrates, make sure that they are complex carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa) and be careful with your portion size. A fist full is about the right amount.
- Be mindful of alcohol. It can certainly sabotage weight loss plans as it is loaded with sugar. It also disrupts your sleep and good quality sleep is what your hormones need during your peri menopausal years. A lack of sleep can increase your hunger hormones.
- Include strength / resistance training in your weekly exercise programme. This will rebuild lean muscle, increase your metabolism and burn fat as well as protect your bones.
- Make sure you practice some self-care daily. This may be in the form of yoga, meditation or reading. This will help you to de stress and avoid those sugar surges.
- Ditch the sugar. You probably know that sugar is bad for you, but it is worth checking out where it could be hiding in your diet. So called healthy energy bars, salad dressings and ready meals are all very good examples which can catch you out.
- Eat organic foods where possible and swap household products for natural alternatives.
- And make sure your diet is full of low glycaemic foods which allow your body to function properly
By adopting these principles and avoiding yo- yo diets for good, you will be giving your body what it needs. When you deprive your body of calories, healthy fats and protein you cannot possibly lose weight. And this is because your body thinks that it is in a famine, goes into survival mode and slows down your metabolism. And of course, this will eventually lead to more weight gain.
If you are peri / menopausal and would like some support in understanding your hormones and weight loss, then do get in touch. I would love to help.